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Roy Orbison

Roy Kelton Orbison (April 23, 1936 – December 6, 1988) was an American singer, songwriter, and musician known for his impassioned singing style, complex song structures, and dark, emotional ballads. His music was described by critics as operatic, earning him the nicknames "The Caruso of Rock" and "The Big O". Many of Orbison's songs conveyed vulnerability at a time when most male rock-and-roll performers chose to project machismo. He performed while standing motionless and wearing black clothes to match his dyed black hair and dark sunglasses.

Born in Texas, Orbison began singing in a rockabilly and country-and-western band as a teenager. He was signed by Sam Phillips of Sun Records in 1956, but enjoyed his greatest success with Monument Records. From 1960 to 1966, 22 of Orbison's singles reached the Billboard Top 40. He wrote or co-wrote almost all of his own Top 10 hits, including "Only the Lonely" (1960), "Running Scared" (1961), "Crying" (1961), "In Dreams" (1963), and "Oh, Pretty Woman" (1964).

After the mid-1960s Orbison suffered a number of personal tragedies, and his career faltered. He experienced a resurgence in popularity in the 1980s, following the success of several cover versions of his songs. In 1988, he co-founded the Traveling Willburys (a rock supergroup) with George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and Jeff Lynne. Orbison died of a heart attack in December 1988 at age 52. One month later, his song "You Got It" (1989) was released as a solo single, becoming his first hit to reach the US and UK Top 10 in nearly 25 years.

Discography[]

  • Lonely and Blue (1961)
  • Roy Orbison at the Rock House (1961)
  • Crying (1962)
  • In Dreams (1963)
  • Oh, Pretty Woman (non-US) (1964)
  • There Is Only One Roy Orbison (1965)
  • Orbisongs (1965)
  • The Orbison Way (1966)
  • The Classic Roy Orbison (1966)
  • Roy Orbison Sings Don Gibson/Sweet Dreams (Africa) (1967)
  • Cry Softly Lonely One (1967)
  • Roy Orbison's Many Moods (1969)
  • Hank Williams the Roy Orbison Way (1970)
  • The Big O (1970)
  • Roy Orbison Sings (1972)
  • Memphis (1972)
  • Milestones (1973)
  • I'm Still in Love with You (1975)
  • Regeneration (1976)
  • Laminar Flow (1979)
  • Class of '55: Memphis Rock & Roll Homecoming (with Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins) (1986)
  • In Dreams: The Greatest Hits (1987)
  • Mystery Girl (1989)
  • King of Hearts (1992)
  • One of the Lonely Ones (2015)
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